Friday, September 30, 2011

Crayons Can Melt On Us...

I pinned this project a while back (when crayons were still $0.40 a box!). I don't know why, but I kind of procrastinated completing it. Sadly, I had everything I needed, I bought the canvas almost two years ago and I have so many crayons I could outfit a first grade class! I just can't resist when they are so cheap. I loved the fun colors, and knew it would go perfectly in my kids' playroom-which I just happen to be fixing up lately!

You'll need:

- approximately 4 boxes of crayons

-hot glue gun

-canvas (16x20 stretched and primed)

-hair dryer

I figured out how many crayons I needed by laying them out in advance. I used four boxes, minus the gray, white, black and brown crayons. I also decided that I did not want to line to crayons straight across the top. I liked the look of having them staggered better. That is the beauty of laying them out! I also decided I wanted to have the "Crayola" portion of the label showing. I have seen some where they show the color name, but I preferred the uniformity.

This part was so easy. Rather than trying to put glue on the crayons (I tried that initially, it was tricky) I just ran two short lines of glue and shoved as many crayons on as I could. I ran the lines about an inch apart and the key to staggering them was just making sure that I did not put any two neighboring crayons at the same height. I think if I did it again, I would probably further exaggerate the unevenness. Oh well, you live and learn.

Once all the crayons were glued, I dragged it outside, propped it on a crate and plugged in my hairdryer.

I set it to high and started blowing! I started out trying to stay even-going across the whole board in long lines. That doesn't work because it allows the crayons to cool too much between passes. Focus on one area until the crayons start to bleed.

It is really fun to watch them drip! Then you just decide how much you want to melt them.

I wish I had let Jocelyn watch this part. It would have been a good art lesson to see the colors blend together and form new ones. It would also be a great science lesson on melting!

I still wanted my crayons to have tips so I didn't melt them down too much. Be careful, how you aim the hairdryer will change how the wax drips. I even got a little on the edges of my canvas, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I found it worked best when I positioned the dryer above the tips pointed straight down. I really focused on melting the ends, but I suppose if you wanted your canvas to be more "drippy" you could go up and down the entire crayon.

My beautiful "art". I originally was going to stop after I took the top photo, then I decided to melt it a little more. I am pretty sure I could take it off the wall and melt it even further if I wanted to. It was about a 15 minute project- total satisfaction! It dried really quickly, too, and was a snap to hang. I didn't even put picture wire on the back. Ta-Da!

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where I got my title from. I absolutely couldn't resist the reference-it was too perfect.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chile Festival

We have discovered something that we love about Colorado that isn't incredibly well known: its local chiles! Every year Pueblo, a town a little south of us, has a terrific little festival to celebrate these tasty peppers. The whole town smells of delicious roasting chiles (if you have never experienced that-you should, it makes my mouth water!) Jocelyn loves it because she can collect all the free junk "treasures".

I love it because we can eat! I am developing a fondness for street food, due to excessive viewing of television shows such as, "The Great Food Truck Race" and also my dear husband, who loves food from any type of establishment that looks as if it might fail an inspection by a blind Health Department employee. Anyway, the first tasty morsel we tried was a regional favorite: the Slopper. It is the bottom of a hamburger bun, a beef patty and generous helpings of green chile, cheese and onion. It looks terrible, tasted great.

I was completely fascinated by the beautiful "ristras"- bunches of fresh chiles strung together, to be used for decor and cooking. They were so coloful! If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see my favorite ones: the multicolored tiny chiles on the end.

This man was in the process of constructing a ristra. It is pretty time consuming to hand tie each chile- that probably explains the hefty price tag! (The large ones were $30+). He was obviously a pro; he was working very quickly.

The chiles can be purchased fresh, but we prefer ours to be roasted. The workers put bushels of chiles into the roasting drums and rotate them over high flames. It is hotter than blue blazes next to them! However, that is not why he is hosing them off. Once the chiles are properly blackened, they run cold water over them to wash off the skin. Then another worker shovels away the remains from the ground. It is kind of like being in the vicinity of a fire- you can get covered in ash if you stand too close!

I tried all day to get a decent photo of the kids. Not happening! It was a little too warm and sunny for smiling.

See all that delicious, beautiful chile goodness? And you cannot imagine the smell...

Joel always has to sample a few to choose the proper heat level. He tried a medium, declared it not the slightest bit hot, and decided to try "Dynomite"- the hottest pepper available at this particular stand. He spent about 5 minutes choking, sweating and coughing before he opted for hot variety- pleasantly in the middle.

The highlight of my day-bar none- was my chile sundae. Chocolate chile ice cream, covered in habenero hot fudge, topped with a chile gummy. DIVINE! It had the tiniest bit of heat, but it was not at all unpleasant. I could have eaten two of these myself. It was wonderful. Don't judge unless you have tried one. Now I understand how they can say that chiles and chocolate are complimentary. It was sweet, and a little spicy, and chocolately, and wonderful....

I love the piles of fresh chiles. You can choose your variety and they throw it in the roaster while you are waiting. There are chiles everywhere- fitting, considering the event!

My little goofball got his balloon stuck in his sunglasses and couldn't figure how to get it out!

The last treat of the day (I didn't include photos of our chile wrap and fresh ear of corn-yum!) was a pink lemonade shaved ice. It was delicious-good thing it was huge!

We cooled off with our shaved ice by the Riverwalk, my most favorite part of Pueblo. It reminds me of the San Antonio Riverwalk- except much less hectic! It is beautiful, and there is always plenty of shade. One day I want to take a boatride on it.

My little dude was fascinated by the water. He looked so peaceful. He dragged that blue balloon around all day-it was sweet.

This sight made me crack up! It is so Colorado- snowboards and boots in a water fountain. They had been placed there by a booth peddling outdoor gear. It is 92 degrees- but they were doing a steady business!

Back to the car after a fun day, with full tummies. The best way to end any adventure!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day in Denver

We decided to take a last minute trip to Denver last week. We wanted to visit the Denver Science and Nature Museum one last time before it isn't free for us anymore. (Losing our military discount is making me very sad!) And I wanted to go to IKEA-of course! We started out in the dinosaur area. It makes Joel crabby that I have to go on and on about how bogus evolution is, but that is just so ridiculous! However, I did think the display above was quite pretty (even if it is total fiction...)

Jocelyn is really getting into exhibits now that she has learned to read. She was very interested in everything.

Our fearless map-reader. Yes, he is as lost as he looks, but he insisted on carrying the map the entire time.

Jocelyn took this photo of Joel and me, and I thought she did a fairly good job. The lighting in this particular area did not agree with my camera. I tried it with and without flash-no success. Someday, when I am big (and rich!) I will have a DSLR...

I thought this was a fun photo of Josie-maybe a teeny bit creepy, but unique. She isn't posing, she was really concentrating on the display.

It is a really fun place. They pay a lot of attention to adding little play areas and kid-related things in with the adult exhibits. The kids were supposed to be herding the llamas, but they preferred riding them.

I am NOT responsible for this thing. As a matter of fact, I don't even know him. I am not even sure how this photo wound up on my camera. I plead the 5th.:)

This Body Trek exhibit was really cool and interactive. Jocelyn was watching how her bones move on-screen. You received a little card at the start and it had your measurements, gender and other information to help you have a really personalized experience.

This was the kids' area in Body Trek. Those are the faces of my charming children. I think it is too weird!

There was a computer program that showed you aging. This is Jocelyn at 70 shown with the effects of excessive sun exposure. It was rather hysterical. I did not get a chance to do it because of the lines (and maybe because I was a little afraid to!).

We hadn't been through the rocks and minerals area before. Colorado is famous for its mines. Jocelyn, because she is a girl, loved all the sparkling rocks and gemstones.

This entire cave was moved from Mexico (I think) and rebuilt in the museum. The photos don't do it justice. It was amazing!

I have a similiar picture of Jocelyn moving moon rocks from the last time we visited. I don't really understand the allure of the "grabbers" but someone knew what they were doing, because my kids love them!

We had a great time, I am glad that we were able to go again. It probably will be a long time before we return, it is a little pricey. I realized after we left that we didn't even go into the kids' room-Josie and Carson were fascinated by all the regular exhibits.

We finished the day at IKEA-I heart that store. You just can't over-value a place with free childcare! We picked up some furniture for the playroom. I am still working on it, but I am hoping to post about the finished room soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Joel and I were discussing how much life has changed since 9/11. I remember the military before, all pressed shirts and dress pants. Now they all wear combat uniforms. I remember flying to Illinois that August, and on my return flight home Joel walked me to my departure gate. Now, you are not allowed past security without a boarding pass.

But I also remember how it seemed every house had a flag hanging right after that day. I remember just praying and praying for the safety of people I didn't know. I remember the feeling of pride mixed with sadness on sending my husband away to war- the war completely accelerated in response to that day.

Pride because I joined many, many wives before me who released their husbands to the care of the Almighty, as their only protection from the danger they would surely face. I was so proud that Joel joined, knowing that the question was "when" he would deploy, not "if".

My generation was welcomed into the ranks of the war generations: Vietnam, Korea, the World Wars,the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, and so many more. There are differences, to be certain, but also so many similarities. Fear, anger, but mixed with pride, and a much greater realization that the Lord was (and always has been) totally in control.

This was, and always will be a defining event in our history. To personally experience that day was almost unbelievable. We will never be able to forget. And I, for one, don't want to.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Telling Tales

I was re-reading some of my earliest blog posts, and thinking how thankful I was that my aunt got me started on blogging. I have a terrible memory, and it isn't getting any better with age. I have figured out a few tricks to improve it, but that really isn't the point of this post. To have it written down is much better than trying to rely on my frail brain.

My life is often mundane, and really lacks any outstanding incidents-at least to me. But when people ask about things, like the birth of my children, I realize that boring is truly in the eye of the beholder.

I am fascinated by people's stories. Some of my favorite books as a child were the "Little House" series (thanks, Mom) as well as the "Stories from Grandma's Attic". Both series were true accounts of pioneer/farm life and I loved being able to sympathize with and understand the feelings of those girls, even though they lived so long ago.

And it wasn't just the big things. I loved reading about the straw "air castle" and all the tasty food in "Farmer Boy". I loved the story about the Valentine cards in "Caddie Woodlawn". I am human, and I connected to those human elements. They made the stories come alive. The parts about Indians, thieves, and months-long blizzards are all amazing, but it was the little things that drew me in and gave me insight.

And that is why I share my stories. I tell my little, boring tales because it makes me real, and it helps me to remember. I want my kids to read this and understand me better. I want my great, great grand kids to read and feel like they knew me.

And that is why it is so important to tell your story. It is yours alone to relate, but you might be surprised at how it touches people. I don't think everyone needs a blog. However, there are many ways to tell your story. I try to share little memories with my kids and Joel whenever they come to mind. Everything doesn't have to be written down-take photos, sing songs, buy souvenirs, draw a picture!

Just remember: God has given you a story that is all your own. And He desires you to use your life experiences to guide and help others. So many Jewish traditions are tied into story telling. Every Passover celebration is a huge, long recounting of the Israelites rescue from Egypt. Every year, over and over. And it never gets old.

Tell your story, and don't be ashamed that it is boring. We shared our testimonies in Lifegroup a few Sundays back, and I was surprised at the number of adults who said that their salvation experience was "boring" or " normal". Being saved from deserved damnation by astounding, completely unmerited grace can never be either of those things. God gave you your testimony for a reason.

Be real, and you will find it draws people to you. No one expects, or even desires, perfection. It is our flaws and weaknesses that allow God's power to shine through in our lives. It is the little strange things, that could never be coincidences, that often help us to discover purpose.

And how could you not want to share that? I often gain more insight into my very own, lived-through experiences when I tell them to others. Sometimes, the other person helps me realize things that I never would have seen on my own, and sometimes, I just see it myself, by trying to describe it to someone else.

One of my favorite quotes of all times is about story telling. In "The Horse and His Boy" C.S. Lewis paints the most beautiful scene between a troubled orphan boy and the lion, Aslan-who is a representation of Christ. The boy, Shasta, feels as if his whole journey has been plagued with trials, and he is trying to understand what happened to his only friend, Aravis. Shasta says, "Then was it you who wounded Aravis?" Aslan replies, "It was I.". Shasta counters with, "But what for?"

"Child," said the Voice [Aslan], "I am telling you your own story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."

You have to tell your own story. No one can do it for you, because God only gave it to you FOR A REASON. Never doubt that any occurrence in your life is a mere coincidence. God does not deal in coincidences, He deals in certainties. Never mistake that there is a plan, a purpose, a hope, a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story
those He
redeemed from the
hand of the foe,
those He gathered from the lands,
from east and west,
from north and south." Psalm 107:1-3(NIV)

Don't be afraid. He brought you to this place for a reason, and perhaps, through the telling (though it may be hard) He may show you things that you would have never seen otherwise. You may be a blessing to someone in ways you never imagined. But you will never know unless you begin. "Once upon a time..."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Little Update

Exactly what I am NOT doing...

I haven't posted in over a week! Craziness! I make myself as busy as I want to be-and I hate it when a post just doesn't seem to be flowing. I had my mind set to write up a couple recently, but when I actually sat down at the computer they seemed contrived and just didn't work. Anyway- in the past 10 days:

1. Joel officially had his last day in uniform. He is on "terminal" leave until the end of October. He also quit his second job (Home Depot, in case you didn't know-he was working nights there) in order to find something that will fit better with his new school schedule. He starts in October.

2. We went to Cheyenne over Labor Day weekend. And I forgot my camera! We visited the most beautiful little park. It had a terrific area called "The Children's Village"- it was so surprising! It had all these terrific water features, and was absolutely enchanting. However, I won't drone on, since I don't have any pictures. My personal favorite part was the labyrinth. I had never walked one before, and it was so peaceful!

3. I started leading Bible study again last week. It is a lot of work, but I love it. I don't know that people realize how much time and energy that kind of thing takes, but I am much more appreciative of all the good leaders I have had in the past. I am really passionate about growing and developing the group this year. I think we are off to a good start.

4. I am cleaning my basement. Our house has sort of a funny lay out, so everything that doesn't have a home ends up in the basement (and is slowly finding it's way out of the house-I love it!). I got a new shelf for my stockpile, and I am doing some rearranging and sorting. I am also prepping for the semi-annual JBF sale-super excited to rid myself of all the kids clothes from last winter!

5. Lots of clearance shopping! This is my favorite time of year for good deals-I stocked up on $0.10 notebooks today, because my little artist (Josie) is using up one every couple of days. My fave recent finds: $6 jeans at the Gap, a free Battleship game (I had a coupon) and an adorable little pencil box that is so perfect for all my pens on my desk!

In addition to all that, last weekend, we had dinner with friends. This weekend we are having a Lifegroup dinner, and the kids start Awana on Sunday. I am praying that goes smoothly, since I won't be teaching and it is at a new church. I am keeping up with laundry, and schooling and all the other million little things. It doesn't seem like much, but it keeps me hopping! I am hoping this week we will be able to ease into a more "normal" schedule. I don't know if I can keep up this pace!:)


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