Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Break

At my work place we traded Columbus day for the day after Thanksgiving meaning I get a four days off in a row. Initially I scheduled Wednesday off because I volunteered to cook the Thanksgiving feast; however, my cousin Sonya in Lakeland wanted everyone to come to her house. This worked out great because the plague hit my work and we were crippled by low attendance at work so taking Wednesday off would have been canceled anyway. (Really low, like only 32% of people one day.)Well, the plague hopped from work to friends and family because cousin Lea was too sick to drive over to Lakeland so thanksgiving dinner was moved to cousin Erica's which was OK by me because she only lives 10 minutes away. Sadly, Lea still wasn't up to joining us but Erica was able to invite her neighbor who lost his wife a couple years ago AND Aunt Mary joined us.
Aunt Mary & mom in front, cousins Sonya & Erica in back
Uncle Larry and cousin Lea's husband Don (Sonya & Erica's dad)
Gathering to say the blessing so we could eat! Erica's neighbor BJ, hubby Jerry, Uncle Larry, Erica's coworker Aaron and her sister Kelly, Sonya and her husband Tommy, Erica's daughter Sarah, and mom and Erica in the foreground with their backs to me.
We had a traditional thanksgiving feast of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, dressing, deviled eggs, cranberries, desserts corn plus a tasty Indian rice dish brought by Erica's neighbor.
The next day mom and I cooked a turkey with the all the fixing again at my house so that we had leftovers. This has become a tradition to redo Thanksgiving if we go somewhere. Jerry loves cold turkey sandwiches and I love figuring out new leftover turkey recipes each year. We had one of Jerry's coworkers over since he's in retail and they and they had to work the Friday following thanksgiving.

Hope yours was great and spent with those important to you. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Free Art Friday! Take Me!

And that's what the sign attached to this artwork said. I found it on a tree at the open air post office in St Petersburg. Others looked at it but didn't take. the weather was starting to turn and I just couldn't leave her.

Reading the attached sign it encouraged a person to take and enjoy the art but to only take 1 (apparently there were many different pieces placed around town) and to post your find on social media so the artist could see their work had a home.

Cool concept. Good ending to a stressful Friday.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Loy Krathong Festival, Tampa 2014

I got an invite to the Loi Krathong festival a year ago and yesterday morning I discovered that "today was the day!" I quickly YouTubed it to figure out how to make a krathong and ran to Michael's and my back yard for supplies.

Basically I need Styrofoam bases, pins, candles. I didn't know I also needed incense.

I didn't have the heart to cut up my banana tree or strip it of it's only 4 leaves so I used giant bird of paradise leaves which are plentiful and sometimes annoying in my back yard. Basically you cut and/or fold the large leaves to cover the base and then create a lotus flower design of triangles.

I didn't know how to make the folded parts stand up to form a basket so I made the hill & valley border which worked great for securing flowers. Here I was already to add candles and flowers and say it was finished when I looked outside and an Areca Palm was calling to me.

So I cut a palm leave and then worked out a way to incorporate it and create an even deeper basket. All the while watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

I then put dendrobian orchid blooms into the loops and secured crinum lily blooms and candles onto to skewers and stuck them in. Krathong #1 finished!
I had lots of materials left over so I made a second but smaller and simpler krathong because I was running out of time. I used a tea light in this one so I tested it to make sure it worked (sometimes they don't).
Here they are packed in a tub and ready to transport. Notice I took extra candles, flowers, and lighter just in case.

I met up with a coworker and her girl friend so we could take only one car to the temple grounds. When we arrived at watmongkolratanaram we were early and took advantage of the short lines at the food vendors and enjoyed steaming bowls of noodle soup. So good. 

Now that is a krathong masterpiece!

Cute little boy very anxious to launch his krathong.

My friend Tip & Corrine near the giant krathong made mostly of flowers.

The temple grounds are on the Plant River and this is looking out from the sea wall to the T-shaped dock. Notice the end of the dock has stairs into the water for launch krathong. Also, there is an inflatable krathong and two dragons in the water. Everything was covered in Christmas lights and was quite beautiful and magical.

The temple exterior.

Shot inside temple. I wanted to take more photos, and others were, but I was uncomfortable taking photos like a tourist when others were engaged in religious activity.

Tip and I trying to keep our krathongs lit in the wind. Next year, electric tea lite candles. Not only will they stay lit all night but they won't cause a fire - yup, one of the krathong went up in flames and took a few others out with it. The monks had to use the water hose to put out the inferno under the bridge at one point.

On the left is Carrina's krathong which she purchased on the grounds. Most of those purchased are made of paper (might be why there was a fire - fire + paper + wind) and mine. Tip bought incense for us because that is an important part of it that I somehow missed on the You Tube video.

Tip with the krahtong I made for her and it's all lit up!

Because they cannot actually be released "into the wild" there are barriers around the area to keep the krathongs from polluting the river and for allowing fire to float around the river. As a result, on a windy night they raft up creating a beautiful landscape of krathong.

Carrina is about to release her worries and problems and start the new year clean.

There they go!

Tip doing the same.

Letting go.

The girls on the dock.

Oops. I should have turned the photo. We took this on the bridge part of the dock after our krathongs had floated around and rafted up with the others. My little one is second from the right on the top row, carrina's is to the left of it, and you can see half of Tip's in the top center - the palm leaves look like spider legs at this point.

Close up showing the beautiful colors and designs. Mine is the little one that looks like an African violet but with a tea light candle in the middle, and Carrina's yellow and orange one right above it.

From the other side of the bridge we watched other release theirs.

Love these close ups.

This was a very special one made of woven greenery and a monk assisted with this launch.

This photo does not do justice to the beauty and magic of this view. The bridge/raft was lit with white lights reflecting off the water and the krathongs floated by, went under the bridge, and then rafted up. Right after taking this photo we heard a loud crack and a portion of the bridge broke and people fell into the water. Luckily they were not hurt, only wet. The folks beyond the break were stranded for about a half hour until the fire department brought a plank. After that folks brought their krathongs to the bridge and one person took them and handed them off to someone at the water level and he launched them.

We went into the recreation center and watched some of the entertainment and bought some freshly made summer rolls with peanut sauce. We left before the beauty pageant started because it was raining pretty heavily and we were getting cold. Tip was telling us she was in that pageant when she was a teenager. It was a great night despite the wind, rain, fire, and bridge collapse. Oh, and we got lost on the way home but it was funny because we drove through the airport terminal. Every time you are in the area the roads have changed!

Happy Hallow-Giving!

My Halloween post is so late I am calling it Hallo-giving!

Eddie the fireman, Diamond the punk rocker, and Lani the clown.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pelican Pete

The Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg, where I work, held a .pumpkin decorating/carving contest between city departments. I was conscripted to create the entry for our department. The theme was "your vision of the city" and each department was allowed to submit only 1 pumpkin (actually, one entry as it turns out because some creations used more than 1 pumpkin)
This photo shows the start of the project. There is the mayor's new theme "the sun shines here" taped to the pumpkin for carving and the beginning of the paper mache pelican. I started by making bendable wings of cardboard, the head and beak of cardboard and aluminum foil, and the feet of cardboard and cut up plastic straws. I watched You Tube videos and learned you can just masking tape things together and then paper mache over them.

I loved how the feet turned out! I actually looked at lots of photo and read up to try to make them as authentic as a paper mached pelican foot can be ;)

The head, neck, and breast are three toilet paper cones taped together with a wad of aluminum foil at the top for the head. Then I cut into the head and inserted the cardboard beak. I split the bottom toilet paper cone into strip so that I could spread it out and paper mache a breast/shoulder. In this photo I have done the paper mache and it's drying.

Here the wings are drying and I was trying to get them to dry with a bend in the wings - that didn't happen. Instead, I ended up with wing that were floppy on the ends. By the time I was finished with the project, the wings didn't have much play. Oh, so that I could attach the wings to the pumpkin, I taped 2 metal kitchen skewers to the back of each wing before paper mache. They worked really well.

Once the paper mache was dry (overnight) I spray painted everything white as a primer. Then I went to buy pain and feathers and decided that my brown pelican was going to be a white pelican. I'm a realistic and practical person (sometimes) and realized that painting in detail would be difficult and probably fraught with errors. In addition, purchasing brown feathers would have been very expensive. So, since the city's Pelican Pete logo is always white (negative space, actually) on other colors AND because these white turkey feathers were way cheaper than the brown ones, I decided on a White Pelican.

With all the pelican parts constructed, I spent the next night carving the pumpkin. This was a huge and heavy pumpkin so I ended up sitting it on pillows on the couch to do the deed. I bought a new Exacto knife and carving kit at Michael's and that carving kit turned out to be so much easier than the Exacto. I decided not to clean out the pumpkin because my experience in Florida has been that they don't last long once carved open. Plus, when you clean it out the carving of the Sun Shines Here logo would have been more difficult I would have to worry about the parts becoming unattached from the pumpkin. I was actually happy with the way it turned out considering my drawing was free hand.

So, Wednesday before the contest on Friday, I was at lunch with a coworker talking about the contest and we said it would be cool if Pelican Pete could sit on a green bench. At one time downtown St Pete had tons of green benches and people came out in droves to sit on them and visit while taking in the sun. They are gone now but there are plenty of things in town that honor or remember these days gone by. Back to the story, we got back to the office and called her husband, who was off that day, and asked if he could make it. He asked when we needed it and we said in two and half hours, lol. By the way, it took two cans of spray paint to make that bench green because it sucked up the paint.

The finished pelican on the bench! Because our narrative is about him resting on a green bench after trick or treating in Billing & Collections (my department), I put a loot bag with candy on his wing. Once we got him to City Hall I had to rethink that because it was pulling down on the wing and you could see the skewer. So, I set it on the table by the vignette. Turns out lots of people had bowls of candy by their entries so it was perfect.

And this is the photo of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor with our entry. Notice the sign that says "#1 Bad to the Bone" indicating we won first place!!!! I never win anything so I was tickeled.

Neighborhood Muscovy

Broke Wing So, back in March a mama Muscovy showed up with 14 ducklings in the pond across the street. These ponds are retention pond...