Friday, April 18, 2014

Early Easter Surprises and Delights

Thank you Easter Bunny for the amazing Easter Gift I would on my door step after work.  I can't wait to open it.  Although it's so pretty I think I will sit back and enjoy it all wrapped up first.

The second surprise I received today was from the Tierney family.  They have a tradition each year of baking Pugliese sweet called a scarcella or "Easter Braid".  It is not quite a cake and not quite a cookie.  They are made in many shapes.  Their family makes them into the shape of a dove.

The oldest form of scarcella is a round braided wreath which is believed to have a bearing on one's luck.  It is said that the recipe dates back to the time of the Roman Emperors and each region of Italy has adopted its own version.  You can find scarcella in Lombardy and the Veneto but you have the Pugliese to thank for this tasty treat.

The scarella merges pagan and Christian Easter symbols.  The braid, already adopted by pre-Christian pagan religions is the symbol of eternity.  The typical Christmas wreath may be based on the same tradition.

The Tierney family uses white eggs (originally they were intricately hand-painted, a custom that has fallen by the wayside).  The white egg is a symbol of purity and of the rebirth or resurrection.  It is held on the scarella by a cross, representing the crucifixion of Christ.  Some scarcella have up to 21 eggs on them, but you'll always find it's an odd number of eggs because odd numbers are considered lucky in Italy.

Scarcella are usually covered in colorful sprinkles or a sugar glaze.  They always prepare theirs on Holy Thursday and they are not eaten until Easter morning.  In Bari where their family originated from scarcella are exchanged on Easter Sunday where the size of the cake and the number of eggs demonstrate the relationship between the giver and receiver.  The more eggs, the more there is to be forgiven between the two.

Most of all scarcella are meant to be shared with friends and family.  Buona Pasqua!  Happy Easter!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Helping Hand Fund Event - May 3, 2014

Raisin, Jay and I are members of the Meet Up Group - Hiking with Dogs. Via Hiking with Dogs we are signed up for May 3rd to attend the Helping Hand Fun - Fun Run/Walk and Pet Fair at Kleiner Park in Meridian next to the Village. Registration is $30 and includes a t-shirt. We are participating in the 1 mile walk at 11:00 a.m. (vs. the 5k run at 10:30 a.m.).

If you like to support dog charities and zip around town or hike with your pooches you might check out both the Meet Up Group Boise Hiking with Dogs and the Helping Hand Fund event:

Boise Hiking with Dogs Meet Up Group:

Helping Hand Fund:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gill Betta Fish Carving

An advantage of not planning an event this year is carving based on my whims.  I have had a Betta fish for years and years.  Not the same fish but I have a small tank in the kitchen and have had a Betta Fish living inside for as long as I can remember.  I think I am sort of a Betta Fish whisperer because most of my fish have lived for over 3 years each.  In Betta Fish terms that is a long time.  Alex and I discovered pretty early on that when we would need to bring home a new Betta Fish after having one travel to the fish tank in the sky that we would forget the new fishes name so we started naming them all Gill.  The name is in honor of the Goldfish in the movie What About Bob.  This carving is in honor of my current Betta Gill.  And the snails in Gill's tank are all named Gary after Sponge Bob's pet snail Gary.

Idaho City Letterboxing with Pixie Dust Gal

Last weekend I introduced Pixie Dust Gal (Kelly) to Idaho City for the very first time.  In over 11 years in Idaho she had never visited.  Kelly and I have a list of items we want to do together this year (yes, we finally had to make a list) and this was one of the items.  She originally had plans on Sunday but they fell through so we quickly seized the opportunity and drove up in the Mustang for the afternoon. 

The timing as far a Letterboxing was not perfect as Atlas Quest was under construction and I was only able to pull clues off of LBNA for her.  Still we made due with the ones I was able to access and hit the road.  Our first box was in really bad shape, stamp gone, smashed and soaked so we pulled it and continued on our way. 

We stopped for lunch at Trudy's and we really lucked out as it rained while we were inside dry and warm enjoying late afternoon pie indulgences.  Kelly could not decide on which flavor sounded the best so she took pie home to share.  I'll need to remember that next time too.  My only disappointment was that they did not have lemon meringue available on this visit.

Back on the trail we visited the visitors center (nabbed a Letterbox), stopped in a couple of stores (Kelly found a birthday gift) and picked up flyers for the Idaho City Walking Tour and the self guided Pioneer Cemetery Tour.  Our time was limited to take the walking tour as it was late afternoon but we did visit the cemetery and Kelly was able to locate two additional letterboxes with a bit of help since we had no clues. 

The cemetery was established during the early part of the gold rush (1860's) and there are actually estimated to be 3,000 people buried in the cemetery although fewer than 300 have historic graves that are identified.  And out of the first 200 only 28 died of natural causes.  All the bodies from the Chinese section of the cemetery have been removed and returned to China.  This has always been a favorite cemetery of mine.  I really love the towering trees, old iron work and historic stonework.  Kelly does not quite share my enthusiasm of visiting cemeteries as she is prone to getting the willies just a bit.  I don't at all so we made sure to be off the hill before dusk threatened.  This explains why Kelly is the Cute Kelly and I am the Creepy Kelly.  Really a good mix between the two of us.  She keeps us in the light and I tend to drag us into the dark. 

Kelly and I will both need to re-visit the area eventually.  Kelly to actually take the walking tour in town and find the other letterboxes she missed and I need to do some box maintenance back at the cemetery.  My logbook is wet and we did not have time to dry it out.

We also hit one additional cemetery in Boise on our way home so Kelly could find an additional box of mine.  The sun was still up and the box was in good shape.  We made it back home before 7:00 p.m.  Pretty good timing considering it was a spur of the moment adventure.

Second Frog Carved and Mailed

Last week I carved the second frog for the event in California.  The two frogs and the Faery on the snail mailed out on Friday.  Thank goodness they only needed the stamps and not logbooks too.  I realized after I mailed them I forgot to stamp them into my logbook.  At least I took some pictures.  I like to gauge how much my carvings have improved over time so I usually stamp them into my logbook so I have a record of my carvings.  I love when I leave the post office knowing that another commitment is off my plate.  I though the frogs would be fun for their pond theme/plants. 
The sweet little duck above is my favorite duck.  I know that sounds silly but she visits our backyard with a few other ducks each year to nab the birdseed that hits the ground from our bird feeders.  She is all washed out like the pigment in her feathers never came in correctly.  This is not a great picture as it was take from inside the house through two glass doors but if you see her in person next to other female ducks she really stands out.  She is my favorite.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tarot LTC - The Moon

I signed up for a Tarot LTC exchange and carved The Moon as my image.  I am no Tarot expert but I really liked this image and found a little information about the Moon Tarot card on the web:

The Moon (XVIII) is the eighteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination. According to Waite's The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, the card represents life of the imagination apart from life of the spirit. The wolf is the fears of the natural mind in the presence of that place of exit, when there is only reflected light to guide it.

Since the image is so busy I didn't want to overpower it with too much color.  I decided to stamp and emboss the image and then give the appearance of their being a blood moon (Hunter's moon or Blood moon, the first full moon after the Harvest Moon).  I kept the coloring minimal and found a background paper to compliment the red.  Sometimes I think simplicity is the right path to take.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jack Skellington Style

My sister, Michelle, visited Disneyland in Florida with her family shortly after we did.  She knows I am a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan and sent me this amazing Jack Skellington hat!  It is so cool.  Anthony took a couple of pictures of me with it on and then I took it outside to photograph so you could see all the neat details and embellishments on the hat.  I totally love it and will be sure to find excuses to wear it aside from Halloween day.  Although I may put it on the top of my Black Halloween Christmas Tree when I am not wearing it.  It would be the perfect topper to the tree too.  Then I can just grab it when I want to wear it.

In addition Michelle completely spoiled me for my birthday and sent me a new black hat and black rose ear cuff.  The picture is not great of the hat above but you can see the ear cuff pretty well.  I have already worn the hat several times since it arrived and I am sure it will be in plenty of pictures.  The great thing about the ear cuff is I can wear it on my left ear which is perfect because my right ear is actually triple pierced (2 on my lobe and one up on top) but my left ear is only pierced twice on my lobe.  The hat and ear cuff are both from Victorian Trading Company which is one of my favorite catalog companies.  The earring cuff will be perfect to wear all year long casual or dressy.  Thank you Michelle for all the wonderful gifts.  You completely spoiled me!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Steampunk Mystery Has Been Delivered

A tiny mysterious envelope with no return address appeared at my doorstep a couple of weeks ago.  The note card inside with the strange symbol on the front reads "Agent 3327 was lost in the crash of the New York Queen Airship.  A case bearing the mark of the Grounding has been recovered.  Further instructions will follow."  I do not recognize the handwriting and the postmark does not identify where it originated from.  I dusted for prints to no avail.  Whoever sent the distressing note must wish to remain anonymous.  I am waiting with anticipation for further instructions hoping additional agents have not fallen prey.  Maybe I too am in danger and need to consider a disguise or going underground until all is clear...    

Carving a Little of This and That

The freedom I have this year (due to not planning any events) has really been great.  I have been able to carve stamps for LTC exchanges, requests I have received and just based on my own whims.  Above are a three stamps I have carved recently.  The frog on top is headed to Sacramento, California for an outdoor event that has a pond (along with another frog I am carving) and the Faery who arrived late for our event last October (maybe she should have flown).  And last but not least the little monsters on the bench are in honor of Kelly (Pixie Dust Gal and I) and all the planning we did the past two years for the events we hosted.  Kelly is the smiling monster with the bag of goodies and I am the one with the smoothie.  All the images I have selected recently are completely different and in most cases are unrelated to one and other.  Some simple, some detailed, large stamps, small stamps etc.  It's wonderful to have more than one theme on my mind.  Although now Kelly and I have to made it  a point to plan getting together since we are not meeting regularly due to event needs. 
On a frustrating note.  I did have to go back to the hand doctor for another cortisone shot last Thursday.  I made the very bad decision to shovel some snow so I would have a path to the birdfeeder and squirrel feeder's in the back yard and completely aggravated my right hand again.  The day after shoveling I was in extreme pain.  What was I thinking?  Here I am almost three months later with constant pain in my right hand and a visit back to Dr. Robinson.  Now I have hand therapy twice a week but the shot has stopped the ache and pain I was having every day and I will be very careful this time around when it comes to heavy duty hand use.  I think the last shot was so effective that I was not thinking that there was still inflammation to be concerned about.  Boy was I wrong.  On the up side I did not let the pain stop me from carving this time around and I am on the side lines for any yard work this spring and summer.  Crossing my fingers that I can get this resolved this time around.  The shot was extremely painful and my hand flared up (a common reaction) for about 3 days but now the pain is almost gone and the bruising is slowly fading.  Why could this not have been my left hand instead?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Snow White of the Sea LTC

Snow White of the Sea is the second princess mermaid that I have carved and am in the process of creating LTC's for.  I did not want the cards to mirror Cinderella of the Sea though.  I stamped Snow White and embossed the image.  Colored with my Copic Markers and trimmed.  I used two store purchased stamps to decorate the background.  Snow White was then mounted to the card with double sided mounting tape to give her a little lift.  I also added a bit of color to the mermaid tail in the background and added Stickles glitter glue to both the background fins and Snow Whites fin.  Although the card's assembly is simple the steps are a little time consuming with so much coloring.  One card completed tonight and 11 more to go.

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