Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Rambles

It's now officially summertime, not that we're acknowledging it or anything, seeing as how SOME of us have yet to finish our Singapore math, but it's still creeping in on us in various ways.

For example, Toffee is trying to accessorize a bit. Here he is trying to convince me that my ancient Holey Soles would be just the thing for his face. He likes to stuff his face into certain shoes. Mostly leather shoes, but once in a while a nice plastic pair does just fine.
Here he is trying to find just the right hair tie. He must have seen Shrek at some point because he has that big doe-eyed innocent thing down pat.

"What is it? What am I doing? I'm just sitting here, doing nothing. These hair ties? They were like this when I came in here."

(he learns from the feet of my children the masters, this cat)

And when he's not trying to convince me of his innocence in the midst of house messes (or his intent to steal my shoes), he's lying on the grass trying to convince me that he's not getting porky. And that he's really just a cute little cat.

Until I walk away, whereupon he will leap up from the grass like a cat possessed (who knows, maybe he IS) and leap upon my ankles with his teeth.

This is his idea of gentle play. I tell him this would SO not wash in the Waldorf schools. He tells me that cats don't go to Waldorf schools. So I tell him that there are Waldorf salads he could accessorize, he's that plump and golden. He tells me that that is why he never eats out. Mistaken identity.

The twins sit on rock faces instead, gazing out onto our neighbourhood environs. They try to pick out our back yard from this vista, arguing agreeably about it the entire time: "It's over there!" "No, it isn't, we don't have a camper van in the back yard." "Oh right. Well, it's NEAR there then." "Are you sure?" "Of course I am!"
And I scour the backyard for new oddities to capture with the camera. Here is a mint leaf. Look carefully - the leaf is double. This is fairly unusual for the mint family. So of course I had to go and take a picture of it. Then I ate it.
We're digging up potatoes these days, too, and today I dug up a potato that weighed 424 gm (and yes, I DID weigh it). For those of you yet to convert to metric, that's just shy of a pound. It must have been lurking there for a while, tucked in amongst the garlic like it was. And I missed it completely until today.

Other than that, things are just about the same as always around here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots Among Us

"But regardless of when or where the robots do battle, their tactics differ little from their cousins, the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots...Optimus Prime, the head honcho, prefers vintage taunts like 'punk-ass Decepticon!' as though channelling early Eastwood."

—portion of Chris Knight's review in today's National Post newspaper

A couple of weeks ago Max and I rented Transformers (the movie). It was a Friday night and we were both in need of an Exciting Action Experience. I was not, however, prepared for the Serious Cheese portion that came along with it, aimed no doubt at the 14-20 year old male demographic. This was pretty much solely the responsibility of a pretty brunette in short shorts, a shorter top, gleaming teeth and tan, and as such it was her unfortunate duty to be The Willing Butt of Many a Sexist Joke, although I suppose by Hollywood standards this could be considered hitting the big time, but we won't go there. I tried to ignore this aspect of the movie, in the interests of remaining relatively objective, but watching Shia LaBeouf grind his teeth on the hood of a car at the sight of a girl in a short top bending over the engine of a car did make me cringe a bit.

Max too averted his gaze at all the fromage being tossed around. "I'm not into that stuff" was his response, well, when he wasn't shushing Richard and I, because we had a hard time keeping quiet during some of it. We groaned and rolled our eyes and made tactless remarks as Cool Jocks, Surfer Dudes, Hot Chicks, and Noble Army Guys stereotyped their way across the script. Max saved his attention for the action sequences, in which Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron, among others, battled it out in various highly explosive ways, pausing occasionally for some loud music, some "transforming," or the odd idiotic remark, aimed this time at the 10+ crowd ("Parents are annoying" "Oops, my bad" "This dude is a serious bad ass!"). I think I groaned a total of 4,329 times. And tried to ignore Richard poking me in the side and saying "And you thought this would be a GOOD movie? Ha. Nice one, Sheila."

It was so formulaic I was mildly embarrassed at having rented it, well, until dinner the next evening when FDPG said "Bumblebee is the yellow transformer, right? Does he kill Megatron or does Optimus Prime?" "How do you know about Bumblebee?" I asked her. "Max told us all about it this morning," she replied, "He said it was a really great movie."

Max, his mouth stuffed with food, nodded vigorously. I stared at him briefly. I stared at the twins. I ignored Richard's snickering.

"Max says it's a really really really really really really good movie, can we watch it before you take it back to the video store?" Dominic said hopefully. "No!" I said, trying to forget the fact that I'd actually paid to watch this movie. "It's not a movie for seven year olds. Besides, there's too much clichéed sexy stuff in it. I don't want you watching that sexist crap. It might give you sexist ideas." "I'll close my eyes!" begged Dominic, "pleeeeeeeeese? I promise not to be sexist."

And so it was that we had a Second Showing of the phenomenon known as Transformers: The Movie in our living room. We started with me nervously fastforwarding through the Cheesy Bits until I realized that the twins regarded the Cheesy Bits as superfluous and annoyingly distracting to the Main Plot, after which I relaxed a bit (but still fast forwarded, because some of that stuff is just too stupid to be seen).

The following day saw Dominic wandering around, muttering Optimus Prime over and over again, to himself. Well, when he wasn't telling me was a FABULOUS movie it was. And what FABULOUS names Optimus Prime and Megatron were. Before too long we were all speaking in the falsely portentous voice Optimus Prime used, introducing ourselves as Optimus Prime:

I'm Optimus Prime, Lord of all Vehicles, and I speak in a really really really deep voice. I will save your planet from destruction because you stupid humans aren't so bad after all.

The things I do. Fortunately Richard was away on a business trip at the time, so he wasn't around to mock me further.

Then this morning I saw a review of the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie in our newspaper. I'd already seen this review in a British newspaper so I was prepared for the unbridled ribbing; what I was not prepared for was the reaction of my kids. I read them the review out loud, pausing slowly over certain bits, so the kids could take in every drop of sarcasm:

You still might find that a prolonged mid-movie trip to the snack bar helps you understand [the film]...Of course, you'll risk missing one of the 17 utterances of "the fallen shall rise" that make the movie sound like an angry advertisement for a senior's help line. On the other hand, you may walk out during a sequence that sounds like this - BLAM Oh no! POWIE - only to find it still going on when you come back 15 minutes later.

They all laughed uproariously. "That sounds GREAT!" Max laughed, "can we go see it when it comes out?" "PLEASE?" shouted FDPG, "that sounds hilarious!" Dominic was still chortling at the comparison to the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. "Rock It Sock It - that's SO funny!"

I feel compelled to point out here that none of my kids know what these are, although when I showed them later on YouTube Max remembered them from a Toy Story movie.

"How many stars did it get?" Max asked me.

"One," I answered.

"Oh, same as Land of the Lost," Max said. "I guess he liked it about the same."

"Yup," I said, "guess he did."

"So," Max persisted, "are we going to see it? I don't care that he didn't think it was good. I think we'll love it."

"Let's wait for it to come out on rental," I said. "I don't think I can handle all that cheese."

"Just because we don't agree with a movie critic doesn't mean that it is going to be a bad movie, you know," he said, sounding remarkably lucid, "there are lots of things you and I don't agree about but it doesn't mean that you're always right and I'm always wrong."

I thought briefly about making a scathingly witty remark at this point but didn't, because I was so shocked at the sense of his thoughts.

Not that I'm taking them to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen anytime soon. Oh no. We'll wait for it to come out on rental.

Something tells me it won't take long.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Garden Tour

The roses that I bought in the spring are all flowering madly right now, and even though it shortens their lifespan I can't resist picking them for the house. Thanks to all the trendy overpriced and filled with generally useless things garden stores proliferating around here I've amassed quite a collection of weird looking vases: 1" high glass cylindrical ones, 10" glass tubular ones that lie sideways, little glass napkin holders that hold one solitary flower, and weird glass dishes to float flowers in. Last summer I even found a pansy ring in a second hand store, although it took me a few hours to figure out that it was a pansy ring (I guess that Charm School when I was 11 wasn't such a wash-out, Mum!). So now we have collections of gorgeously smelling flowers all over the place. I've even got the trifle dish in use: filled with water and several roses floating on the surface on the centre of the table.
This first rose is a climber called Westerland. It's scent is rather fruity, the petals are slightly frilled and it glows in the back yard at night. I've got it training up against a trellis, with some cucumber plants for company.
This one is called Tahitian Sunset - I bought it because of two things: it's heavily scented and I like apricot/coral coloured roses. This not the best shot of this rose (this one is a little past its prime) but I was too lazy to go back out and search for a newer bud.

Nasturtiums. It's a good thing these plants grow like weeds because we've been garnishing our salads with them every night. This particular variety grows 10'-12' up a trellis, and if you intertwine them with scarlet runners the effect is pretty wild. They have a slightly peppery taste which can, in FDPG's some mouths, seem HORRIBLY HOT AND SPICY, but is lessened by eating them one petal at a time.

Phew. The drama around this place.

And I've finally been able to really and truly experience what the phrase "Having too many plants of one variety" means. This is The Pumpkin Corner. There are many many pumpkins here. They are overtaking the zucchinis, the tomatoes, and they are currently in Hostile Takeover Negotiations for the artichokes' spot. My money is on the artichokes though, because they have killer spikes.

This is a Compost Corner. Plants include: climbing rose (Madame Alfred Carriere), lysimachia punctata, pink roses (liberated from some of our rental experiences), a fig tree, potatoes (Russian fingerling, Desirée), Tigerella tomatoes, a pear tree with rust (check out the juniper behind it, malevolent with Rust Intent, sob), tiger lilies, and more lysimachia, only this one is the goosenecked variety.

And look who we found in the fennel the other day - a swallowtail caterpillar. He was very small a few weeks ago when I first noticed him (or her?) and I watched for a while as he crawled around, chewing thoughtfully on one particular frond. Then one week he was suddenly three times the size. And I was able to get a photo of him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sore Bay Updates

I've updated my hardly-ever-updated food blog with two recipes. Ah yes, I can see you're all waiting with baited rods. Err, bated breath, I mean. Gripping my food blog is, I know. 

One is a lemon verbena sorbet that really is worth the term superlative. I've posted the recipe before but seeing as how my lemon verbena is in such perfect bushy form at the moment, just desperate for a good pick (ooh, that sounds weird, doesn't it?), I posted it again, just in case there's anyone out there with a bushy lemon verbena plant in need of picking trimming. If you find the instructions too confusing to follow leave a note in the comments section. I know I can be a bit obtuse...

The other is a marbled brownie recipe I made for a Scout/Beaver event we were at on the weekend and the peanut butter marbled bits were so deliciously salty I fell resoundingly in love with it. And no, it was NOT me who picked all the peanut butter off the top. Nope. Not me at all.

Consuming Flowers Passions

This is the time of year when having a garden is all it's cracked up to be.

We've got things from the garden for salad each night: nasturtiums, pansies, marigolds, radishes, rocket, mint, chives, artichokes, buttercrunch lettuce, and oak leaf lettuce.

Even FDPG the Picky Eater is eating salad.

Because she grew it.

These were turned into jam yesterday. And the remainder were turned into our stomachs via several meals of waffles, strawberry shortcake, and vanilla yogurt parfaits (for those of us who don't like whipped cream).

But wait, there's more. Or rather, there will be more. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Five Little Potatoes And How They Grew

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin.

This is the tale of Five Little Potatoes and How They Grew.

Anyone remember this? It was a vase we were given one Christmas (by someone who obviously had no idea what to give us, sheila whispers sotto voce). It sat in the basement for a while because none of us knew what to do with it. It was big. And breakable.

I'm not Martha enough, evidently, because Martha WOULD know what to do with it.

Anyhow, a while back the kids had some projects entered in a Science Fair and this featured in the twins' section as a Guess What This Plant Is exhibit. At the time no one could guess what it was (well, someone did but that was only after she'd exhausted 30 other guesses). To put you all out of your misery I'll tell you that it's a potato. One we grew last year. It sat in the basement, forgotten under a box of onions, until I saw the sprouts peeking through. So we planted it on a bed of sand, let it sprout some more, and took it in to the Fair. It was a hit. A mystifying hit, but a hit nevertheless.

So, we planted the potato, we took it to the Fair, we brought it home again. Exit Everyone's Interest.

Since then it's been sitting on the back deck in the sun, getting more and more crowded in its little home. Today I took pity on it, perhaps in part because of Richard's repeated "Jeez, just how long are you going to torture that thing?" comments, and planted it in the garden. And when I carefully shook the sand off the roots in preparation for sinking it into its new hole, what should I find but these...

What We're Reading Thursday

This is part of Jill's (The Well Read Child) What We're Reading Thursday meme. For more What We're Reading reads, click here.

We’re reading Hugh Lofting’s The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle this week. I found it in the second hand store a while back and could not resist the 25¢ price tag. Nor could I resist the memories I had of Rex Harrison as the genial singing Doctor, sitting on that giant snail, not to mention the PushMe-PullYou. Boy did I want one of those PushMe-PullYous when I was a kid. And yes, I wanted to talk to animals too.

There is always the risk, when one reads an older book to one’s kids, of difficulties with language. And by difficulties I mean style. Think of the last Jane Austen book you read: how much of that would be easily understood by your average seven to nine year old? Not much, methinks. And so, when I picked up Dr Dolittle and said “This is our next read!” very brightly to my kids, I had a little of that trepidatiousness about style and language in my heart. It’s the same when I bring home one of the Disney movies of my childhood, movies which our library seems to have in abundance: Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Parent Trap, The Cat From Mars, The Three Lives of Thomasina. Movies my brother and sister clamoured to watch every Sunday night on the Wonderful World of Disney (I was a tagalong on these evenings, too young for anyone to take seriously). There is a part of me waiting for the kids to scoff, because they are so very very dated, but thus far they’ve loved everything, particularly if there is a charming cat involved.

But I worried for naught, really, because this is an extremely accessible read for any kid. Well, almost any kid. There are bound to be a few kids out there who don’t dream of sailing off into the sunset, off to seek their fortune (even if it means a shipwreck). Kids who don’t sometimes wish they could speak the language of the animals. Kids who don’t like hanging around with eccentric adventurers or opinionated parrots. I’m sure there are. But they aren’t my kids. My kids are hanging on every word of this book, even when some of those words are rather, err, quaint. I’m reminded of Beatrix Potter every now and then, because Mr. Lofting is very fond of the word “presently,” a word I remember quite well from the thousands of times I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit to Max. There is a bit of the old ‘colonial mentality’ as well, but I think this is something adults would be more sensitive to than most kids. Where I might see aspects of British Imperialism, my kids see strange clashes with different groups of people. It is, after all, a product of its time, having been written in 1922.

So we’re all greatly enjoying this story. Max loves that there’s always plain old sausages and tea for every meal, while Dominic is thrilled by the idea that a ten year old is sailing off with an eccentric Doctor, a chimp, a parrot, and a peculiar African prince named Bumpo. FDPG loves the idea that all the really smart animals are female. I’m sure there’s more, but that really stands out for her. That and the erudite polyglot abilities of the Doctor. But we haven’t yet met the Giant Sea Snail. Wonder what they’ll make of that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday Night Garden Tour

It was so warm and balmy after dinner tonight that we all repaired to the back yard, me to spot water some plants that were missed by the soaker hoses, Katie to dangle from the boat float hanging from the willow tree, the boys to whack the poor poor stand-in for a shuttlecock (an old Waldorf wool ball) REALLY hard against their badminton racquets and shriek with laughter when the old woollen ball got caught in the trees. Try as I might, I cannot get them to play softly, and this year I even sprang for decent badminton racquets instead of the cheap dollar store crap I usually buy (gosh what was I thinking).
As I watered I came across this little geum. It's a lovely garden flower, blooms early in the spring and lasts forever in a vase. This particular variety is called Mrs Bradshaw. Who were you, Mrs Bradshaw? And why do you have a flower named after you?
This is Lysimachia punctata. Yes, it is loosestrife, but it's not that loosestrife. It's yellow loosestrife. It's almost as spreading, but it's not classified as an invasive plant. I like it a lot; it's also a long laster in a flower vase. Stands up forever, even in murky water (I know this because I just checked the vase in the bathroom and let me say that this flower will last in just about anything...ahem).

It also keeps its colour in a vase forever. And the bees love it. So do I.

My dad left these on the doorstep for my birthday last November, and instead of chucking them out I stuck the pot in the garden and promptly forgot about it, horrible daughter that I am, and what should I see this spring but this: burnt orange blooms, glowing in the noon day sun.

My Georgia O'Keefe flower. I won't say which part of female anatomy this might or might not be, because I'm still in my Jane Austen heroine phase and I think this would scare the bejeesus out of the JAH, don't you? That naughty naughty Georgia, none of us can look at a circular flower anymore without thinking of...well, I'll leave it to your imaginations.

And whaddaya know but the artichokes are doing excellently, despite my inept care last winter. One gardening site I checked out told me to invert a pot over them before the frost, then leave them. Another told me to mulch them heavily before the first frost. So I piled up a lot of leaves then stuck a pot over each one, neglecting to read the fine print at the bottom of the instructions, the fine print that read "Make sure you do not pile the mulch too close to the stalk because it will cause rot to set in." Poor poor artichoke. I promise not to do that this winter. Really I do. Especially if you keep doing this.

Strawberries. My dad and I have a semi-friendly game going on, where he comes over and curses my strawberries for being so robust and healthy looking and I go over to his house and mock his for looking so pathetic.

Hmmm. Don't we sound mature. It's really very amusing. Really.

Now when I first saw this it struck me as Horrifying Garlic Bed Carnage. If Toffee (our cat) had been around at the time I would have cursed him for lying all over my garlic and crushing it. I might even have shrieked at him. But he wasn't anywhere to be seen so my next thought was "OMG I HAVE ROTTING GARLIC!" It was heartbreaking, actually...well, until I dug carefully around one stalk to see the rot more carefully and discovered that it must be an early variety of garlic because there were some big honkin' bulbs under that soil. And when garlic is almost ready the stalks, uh, well, they tip over and look like, well, uh, they look like this photo. Carnagey-like.

No cat squishing. No rot. It was just garlic doing its thing. And me doing my thing. (gotta work on the overly melodramatic thing a bit, don't I?)

See? I took one out of the ground just to show you that I have not lost my mind completely.

See that bulb?


I make the world's best garlic butter, if I do say so myself.

I'll even give you the recipe, such as it is:

Sheila's Really Amazing Garlic Butter

Cut the tops off 3 heads of garlic. Place them in a bakingdish and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a 375ºF oven until they are very soft. Let them cool for 20 minutes, then remove the skins. Place the garlic mush in a food processor and blend till smooth, then add some salt (I use Spike) and about 1 cup of unsalted butter and blend some more. Transfer to a ceramic dish and chill for a few minutes until the butter is firmer, then slather on a hot fresh baguette.

Nighty night!

Wednesday Garden Tour

The flowers are really blooming in the garden these days. Everything is awash with lush, colourful blooms, although the blast of Mediterranean heat we had last week almost exhausted my poppies. Instead of popping over a period of weeks they popped all in the same week (I tell my kids that this is why they are called poppies). This is the Princess Victoria Louise poppy. It's so delicate and feathery and beautiful that I thrill to see it every spring. And no, contrary to what Richard might say, I am NOT being a little on the melodramatic side. I really do thrill to it. I love salmon coloured flowers.

This is a Himalayan blue poppy. I've tried before to grow these things, even going so far as to buy those horribly expensive Seeds of Change packets from the store, but nothing ever came from them. They didn't even languish: they expired before they could languish. Finally I gave up. Well, until this spring, when I saw the plant itself at the place where I buy eggs. I couldn't see many disasters befalling an actual plant, so I bought it. And lo and behold but the darn thing actually bloomed.

This is a bed I built (with my own two hands, gosh, how clever is that?) with some bricks a friend of mine gave me when we first moved here. I saved these bricks for a garden path, which I never seemed to get around to, so they sat in the carport for well over a year until Richard was finally compelled to comment on them (he's a patient man, is Richard).

"Did you forget that you had a lot of bricks Out There?" he said. (he's also rather taciturn)

"No, of course I didn't," I said, rather testily. How could I forget, I thought. Honestly, does he think I'm a dingbat or something?

Better not answer that. In the interests of marital harmony and all...

Anyhow, the area in the photograph here used to be a bit of a swamp in the winter. I don't think the drainage is all that it could be, and some days the water swam over the concrete tiles. There was even some algae there. Slimy algae. Icky slimy algae. My poor perennial fuchsias were not happy. They came back last year, but I could sense their pain. So I raised their living quarters a bit, using those bricks. The fuchsias burst out of the ground this spring like, well, springs (gosh, do I have a way with words or what). And to give that little brick bed some je ne sais quoi, I planted some Baby Tears in between some of the bricks. I'd seen them spilling most artistically from an urn in a garden magazine and I wanted that Artistic Spilling happening in my own garden. But I lacked an urn. Well, an urn and the blue wall behind the urn. Oh, and the fountain they all sat in. No fountain. But I did, as Richard liked to remind me, have some bricks. Bricks sitting around doing absolutely nothing (oh the horror of it). I took one plant, ripped it into 6 pieces, and wedged a piece into six different areas. It was a good thing I started this bed in April because it took me three weeks of careful watering to nurture these little buggers bits along. We had a lot of iffy moments, we did. But now they are beginning to Spill. Artistically.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mosquito Crafts

FDPG had a terrible reaction to a mosquito bite on the weekend. She got bit above her eyebrow and it swelled so bad I actually called the nurse hotline. I spent about 15 minutes answering questions that I know were meant as a way of ascertaining what the problem was, but they made me feel like such a crap parent ("No, her immunizations are not up to date. No, she's never had a tetanus shot. No, she's never had an eye exam."). After mentioning TETANUS once too many times, the nurse finally admitted that no, it probably wasn't tetanus and yes, it probably was a severe reaction to the mosquito bite (runs in the family). But those eyes of hers were only getting more swollen, to the point that some rude member of the family compared her to a Klingon. After kicking someone in the shins, I broke down and bought some CM (conventional medicine) to help her with the itching and swelling, because the homeopathic bottle I had was empty and the store I usually go to buy such things was closed because it was too early in the morning but the conventional drug store was open and oh boy but that FDPG didn't look very good (gosh, I must live for complicated drama, mustn't I?). The nice pharmacist at the drug store said that the Benadryl would either make her hyper or make her drowsy. These sorts of things usually make me drowsy but somehow I had the very distinct sense that this stuff would turn FDPG into a whirling dervish, just because I live for complicated drama.

And I was right.

Thirty minutes after taking the medication she began bouncing and leaping on couches, which wasn't such a great idea considering her eyes were almost swelled shut, so I put the kibosh on such antics and told her to settle down a bit. Which also wasn't such a great idea because there was all that irritating lovely manic energy and no place to turn it loose.

So out came the craft kits.

People give FDPG a lot of these kits. She has candle making kits, jewelry making kits, origami kits, paper making kits, super science kits, desk set kits, clock making get the idea. Things well-meaning adults get for their busy little bee relatives. Busy little bees like FDPG. But even she can only do so much before some of them start piling up.

This time we got out the Flower Press Kit. We opened it up. We surveyed the things it came with:

a pair of tweezers
a nifty mini hole punch that FDPG spent a lot of time exclaiming over
some little plastic pots of acrylic paint
some positively horrible paint brushes
some ribbons and beads and a squashed purple fabric flower
two wooden covers
some bolts and wing nuts
some octagonal paper
some octagonal cardboard

While the wooden covers and the cardboard were very cool, the rest of the stuff was not very inspiring. It was, dare I admit, rather on the dull side. Not for the first time did I curse the Clever Clogs who developed that thing known as the Cheap Plastic Kiddie Brush. They drive me nuts. I don't expect professional sable artist brushes, but jeez, these things shed like mad, the bristles stick out and make a mess of the paint, and they never absorb the paint properly. I always throw these brushes out when we get them. I hate 'em.

(gosh, sheila, don't hold back, tell us how you really feel)

We stared for a while, FDPG and I, wondering what to make of these things, while inwardly I was worrying about FDPG's ability to paint with half-closed eyes. Then I was hit with a sudden burst of inspiration, because not only do people give FDPG a lot of kits, they also give her a lot of Ethnic Bead kits and Glittery Item kits and Interesting Paper kits. And we don't always use everything in those kits. We have a lot of what I have labelled Accumulated Leftover Craft Items in boxes and ziplock baggies in a cupboard as a result. Periodically I think "Interesting Garden Art!" when I look at them, but for the most part they sit in their boxes and bags in the cupboard. So I hauled out a couple of those boxes and bags. We perused. We sifted. We poked. And eventually we had all the things for FDPG's Flower Press. Then, since FDPG's eyes weren't working so well, I arranged and glued and kept her apprised of events as they progressed: "Now we glue on the African beads. Do you want the purple flowered ribbon or the red striped ribbon? Where should the beads go?" And so on. Until we were finished.

Here is how it looked when we were done. I think it is a nice example of FDPG's penchant for odd colour combinations, fake-vintage garden labels, and big weird looking beads. It's a very tactile object, too: no one can pass by it without stroking it.

And inside it are a whole bunch of squashed flowers from the garden, things to remember a sad, sore day on the couch by.