Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Grinch that stole the library

I am not proud of myself.

Tonight, T decided to repeatedly stand on his books. He does this because he knows that he is not supposed to and because it drives me Up. The. Wall. I can hear the books whimper as the spines crack and bindings groan.

After putting him in his 3rd "time in" for standing on the book with the largest, most crackable spine of all, he gave me a hug, jumped off my lap, and ran straight to said book and defiantly stomped on top of it. I'm pretty sure he smiled.

At my wit's end, I asked if I needed to take away all of his books since he couldn't treat them nicely. "Yes", he nodded seriously. Stupid Mama. I cannot threaten things I have no intention of doing. I gathered up the books. It took years. Books are like water in our house. Like air. He has more books than socks, diapers, toys, and bananas combined. (And he has a LOT of bananas.)

Armful after armful of books were piled into mountainous towers in a closed-off room. T screamed like his limbs were being torn from his body. Like his heart was being removed from his chest. T loves his books more than toys, more than snow, even more than bananas. And I love that he loves books. But I want him to learn to respect his things. I know he's little. I know I'm asking too much. But tonight he was being so willful about it, I lost my head.

I am so very mean that when I found his stupidest book ever (The Friendly Possum) after The Book Cleansing had finished, I plucked it from his reaching grasp like the Grinch stealing the mouse's last miserable pathetic crumb from the hearth.

Tomorrow we're going to have to kiss and make up and bring a few books out of exile. I'm pretty sure Santa is bringing more books and we (all) need to practice being civil.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wicked fun

Spooky new Halloween puppets are up at our Etsy shop.  Here's a picture of one of the 4 new sets.  There's enough puppets to scare all your friends and neighbors.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Accidental Thai Hat

I accidentally knit a Thai hat for T. It reminds me of the hats traditional Khon dancers wear, and of chedis (stupas) at Thai temples.
I intended to just knit a plain hat with earflaps. Then I decided to add stripes. Then I thought a pointy top would look cute. After I wove in all the ends, I thought, where have I seen this before?

Hat details on Ravelry (which, by the way, I somehow managed to avoid joining until last week and now I am hooked. How in the world did I not realize what I was missing? Free patterns all together and easily searchable? People trading stash yarn? Photographs and comments from a zillion other knitters who've already slogged through the patterns I'm considering? I'm in heaven!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Puppet invasion

It's pretty cool to see our shadow puppets mentioned on other blogs.
Here are a few:


3 dainty delights
Things we like
Fancy island

And an artist "spotlighted" on Etsy listed us as a "favorite artist to promote". We're flattered!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Belle's Stratagem

Yesterday we took our annual pilgrimage to outdoor American Players Theater. The play - The Belle's Stratagem - was written by female playwright Hannah Cowley in1780. It was fantastic and we were laughing through the whole production.

Nearly as funny as the witty performance was the high school drama group sitting to our left. At intermission, one kid asked in exasperation, "Does anybody know what's going on?" I thought he should have been required to relinquish his "Drama Geek and Proud Of It" t-shirt. Another student started to explain the plot and soon had the whole flock bunched close around her, hanging on her every word. It made me slightly worried about the state of their educations if self-proclaimed drama geeks couldn't follow the play. It wasn't really that complicated.

Soon all the kids were up to speed and the second half of the play began. Armed with knowledge of "what's going on", the high school group was much more engaged. They let their amusement at the wit of the play be plainly known to everyone. I found myself thinking that this must have been what theater was like centuries ago with the unruly "yard" standing up front. Every witty remark got extra laughter from the kid section. Every time a character delivered a sweet, sappy line, the whole section would sincerely sigh, "awwww...". And when a character would give someone their due, there was loud whooping of approval. It was incredibly amusing for those of us sitting near them. I had tears in my eyes from laughing. It made me wonder if people shouldn't be a little more interactive with their theater and treat plays like rock concerts. I bet the actors wouldn't mind at all.

We also stopped at a small petting zoo of sorts and Meredith fed some deer, llamas, wallabies and goats.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Top Secret Project

A representative from a national show contacted my sister and I about the possibility of presenting our Orange Moon Toys shadow puppets on television. Yikes! Frantic scramblings of preparations are underway. More information to follow if we're successful. Wish us luck!

Rock River Thresheree

We attended the Rock River Thresheree over the weekend. It was interesting to see nineteen bazillion tractors, and steam engines running everything a steam engine can run. (Including a sawmill, blacksmith shop, woodworker's shop, train, calliope, pile driver, water pump, ice-cream-churner, and most importantly, aluminum can crusher.) We also saw oats being threshed, or course. My favorite was seeing sorghum smushed (my verb, not theirs) and boiled down into syrup. We brought a jar of it home and I'm cooking up some tasty granola with it right now. Yum!
Hay baling.

The sawmill was rather terrifying.

Obligatory photo in front of a Ford tractor with Grandpa Glen. (Too bad there weren't any Honda's!)

Dulcimer and mandolin

With all the noise and smoke, this was not the ideal place for T to catch his morning nap. I'm impressed he managed to sneak in 20 minutes of unconsciuosness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Whatever you do - Do Not Scribble

I made recycled crayons for T today. He's not shown any interest in scribbling and I thought it might be the spindly little crayons I have. So I melted them down in muffin tins to make nice toddler-sized chunks of gorgeous color. They turned out so pretty I wanted to eat them. T agreed. He wanted to: eat, stack, smash, and try to hold all of them at once. He did not want to scribble with them. Sigh.

I also impatiently stuck them in the freezer to harden them faster. This caused most of them to crack. I can wait 6 months to bring home my baby, but not an hour for crayons to cool? Serves me right.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My baby loves yarn!

How lucky am I?
Or wait, maybe we'll be fighting over my stash.
Not that I have time to knit anyway.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Adoption Blog

We made CritterQuest, our adoption blog, private this week. If you'd like to follow along as we travel to Thailand, email us at kyleandrobin at gmail dot com and we can add you to the reader list. You'll need to use a gmail account to sign in a read it, but it's easy and free to sign up if you don't already have one.

I wish blogger showed an email link on the page announcing a blog is private, but it does not. So I'm giving notice here in case anyone missed the message last week and didn't shoot us an email.

Have a great week everyone. I'll probably not have time to post here again for a very long time.

Friday, May 09, 2008

New toys

What's more fun - the new camcorder or the finger puppets? That's a tough one. Don't tell Kyle, but the finger puppets might win....at least on a cuteness level, until we get video of T into our video camera.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hungry animals

I've never painted anything before, but with my sister's help and some cheap canvas and paint from the local craft store, we created 4 paintings for T's room. Initially, the animals were alone, but after they were painted we were inspired to feed them all lunch. Kyle thinks we're a bit morbid. I love them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Poor timing

My sister and I have been working on starting a little business for the last few months, and now we're finally up and running. We are selling homemade shadow puppets on Etsy. We named our store Orange Moon Toys, after the glowing orange moon during an eclipse (the coolest shadow ever). Photos of all the individual puppets and sets are on our new website. The neatest thing is that Meredith found a way to make puppets that cast colored shadows. Super fun. Really. I even took a squid to work to play with (shh...don't tell!).

It was so much fun to get everything planned and organized. (Perhaps Meredith would say it was slightly less fun, as she had much more work to do, being the actual artist.) The problem is this: We have a billion cool ideas for new sets we want to create, as well as other things we want to design and sell. But we should have started this last year. I suddenly have a wonderfully full plate.

Lucky for me, I think Meredith realized this would happen. I'll still pitch in when I can.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A bird in the hand

There is a place along the Anvil Lake trail in the Nicolet National Forest, just east of Eagle River, WI, where chickadees and nuthatches will eat seeds right out of your hand (or off your head!) This was the highlight of the retreat my mom, sister, grandma and I attended at Camp Moon Beach last weekend.
As you can see, Mom was a bird hog, and was feeding two at a time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I'm in Baltimore for the first time to attend a conference for work, and I wish I was here on vacation instead. Of course, I forgot to bring the cord that connects my camera to my laptop, so I can't post any pictures yet. (This one has been "borrowed" from a fellow visitor to Baltimore. Forgive me!)

The conference was interesting, but far cooler is the city of Baltimore. I've gotten a chance to walk around a bit, and I love the Mt. Vernon neighborhood pictured at left. I persuaded my co-worker to try a Thai restaurant - Thai Landing - on the street pictured that was highly recommended online. We were not disappointed. It was delicious, and the fist time I've had scallops prepared in a Thai dish. Mmmm....

The inner harbor area is pretty sweet, too, and also within walking distance of our hotel. We met an amazingly helpful gentleman who was being dive-bombed by pigeons as he gave us a map (very useful), info on how to use the water taxi (which we didn't use yet - maybe tomorrow), and a recommendation to walk over to the Little Italy neighborhood for dinner (which we did). The pigeons were after his Cheetos, which he apparently feeds to them while he hangs out along the water all day. He was wearing a jacket with an official-ish looking patch and we thought he perhaps works for the city to help tourists. He was really nice and helpful, whoever he was. Even if I was in constant fear of seagull poop splashing my head for the entire conversation.

For some unknown reason, our company arranged our flight home for late tomorrow evening although the conference ended today. In the morning, we plan to climb the 228 steps of the Washington Monument (pictured above) to get a good view of the city, and then spend the rest of our time at the National Aquarium. I hope to have some fishy pictures to post once I'm back home. Baltimore is a wonderful city to visit. It goes without saying I wish Kyle was here with me. Well, I guess not, actually, since I just said it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Glove bear and rabbit

With easy instruction from my Sock and Glove book, I sewed a bear and rabbit from a couple pairs of gloves. The animals in this book are all pretty cute, and I can finish a glove creature while watching a (longish) movie. My favorite is still the sock elephant.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hot Air Affair

We were in Hudson, WI last weekend (near Minneapolis/St. Paul) and attended the Hot Air Affair parade Friday night. Hot air balloon baskets on the backs of trucks and vans parade down the street in the dark, turning on their burners to light up the downtown. Everyone was in Mardi Gras costume and there was much merriment despite the cold. It was amazing how warm it felt on my face while the burners were turned on. The pictures don't do the parade justice - it was really cool to see 3 or 4 balloons with their burners on at a time. The video gives more of a taste of what it was like. I'm not sure if the balloons got to fly last weekend or if the weather prevented a launch, but the parade sure was fun! The only time Kyle and I have been in a balloon was a sweltering summer day. I kind of like the idea of taking a ride in the winter.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Be ever vigilant

The squirrel threat is always present. They will strike when we least expect it.
(Photo source unknown.)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Malaysian dinner

We destroyed Mer and Ewan's kitchen last night to make a delicious Malaysian dinner. The curry was delicious, and the sambal was amazing. We also treated ourselves to some colorful tapioca "bubbles" in our Thai iced tea.

Fresh Mint Sambal:
  • 2 oz. mint leaves
  • 1/2" piece ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sm. onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 T lime juice
  • salt
Put firtst 4 ingredients in blender and mix to a paste. Add salt to taste. Serve with curries or crackers/bread.

Friday, January 04, 2008

How to Make Thai Iced Tea

I adore Thai iced tea, but never considered making it myself until I had my sister along on a trip to our Asian grocer. She and my should-be-chef husband have experimented with various recipes found on-line and in books until settling on just the right method to recreate Thai iced tea at home. Here's their recipe.

(Warning - Thai ground tea has food coloring in it, so everything it touches turns a lovely red/orange color. Including you.)

Pour enough water to fill your iced tea pitcher with boiling water over 2C. Thai ground tea into a large bowl. Allow to steep for at least 20 minutes.

Spread a clean (but unloved, for it is soon to be stained and for tea-use only) flour-sack dishcloth over the mouth of your empty pitcher (use a funnel if squeemish). A strainer won't be fine enough - the tea leaves are very small. Pour the steeped tea into the pitcher, filtering out all of the leaves.

Chill the pitcher of tea in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make simple syrup: Dissolve 1C. sugar in 1C. water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.

When ready to serve, add simple syrup to taste to the pitcher (I use all of it-mmm....sweet!).

Pour tea over ice and top with half and half or cream and enjoy!

Hat recipients

Darn - I forgot to make Erika and Grandma try on their hats for my camera. Oh well. Here are half of my knitting victims.